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In Brief: Finalized Deal … Gem Snatch … Ship Rech

<B>FINALIZED DEAL:</B> In an effort to increase its off-mall expansion, Sears, Roebuck and Co. said Wednesday that a prior agreement with Kmart Holding Corp., in which it will acquire ownership or leasehold interest in 50 Kmart locations for $575.9...

FINALIZED DEAL: In an effort to increase its off-mall expansion, Sears, Roebuck and Co. said Wednesday that a prior agreement with Kmart Holding Corp., in which it will acquire ownership or leasehold interest in 50 Kmart locations for $575.9 million, has been finalized. Sears has paid 30 percent, or $172 million, of the total purchase amount to Kmart and will pay the remainder when it officially takes over the stores around April 2005. In addition to the Kmart transaction, Sears confirmed that it will be making lease payments to Wal-Mart under subleases for six Wal-Mart stores. Thanks to both deals, Sears said it is doubling its store base in San Diego and significantly increasing the total number of stores it has in Florida, the Northeast and Puerto Rico.

GEM SNATCH: Two diamonds, together worth approximately 11.5 million euros, or $14.2 million at current exchange, were stolen Monday from Chopard’s stand at the Biennale des Antiquaires held at Paris’ Carrousel du Louvre. A white 47-carat diamond and a blue 15-carat diamond valued at 6 million euros, or $7.4 million, and 5.5 million euros, or $6.8 million, respectively, were stolen between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. from their glass display case, according to a police spokesman. There were no witnesses. A spokesman for the Geneva-based jeweler confirmed the theft but declined further comment.

SHIP RECH: French fashion house Georges Rech has been granted three months bankruptcy protection by Paris’ commercial court. Owned by Swiss equity firm Leman Capital, Rech employs 230 people in France and 70 abroad. Leman, which recently sold its other fashion interest, Guy Laroche, to Hong Kong’s YGM Trading Ltd., said it was “actively studying financing possibilities to keep the house running.” Rech had sales of about 180 million euros. or $222 million at current exchange, last year, about a third of which came from licensing royalties in Asia, according to Rech’s Internet site.